Democrat wins election in conservative Alabama after focus on abortion and IVF

An Alabama Democrat who campaigned against the state’s near-total abortion ban has won a special election to the state legislature, a stark signal that reproductive rights is a potent issue for Democratic candidates, even in the deep south.

Marilyn Lands won the state house seat on Tuesday, defeating Teddy Powell, a Republican, by 63% to 37%. Lands, a licensed professional counselor, previously ran for the seat in 2022 and lost by 7% to David Cole, a Republican who resigned last year after pleading guilty to voter fraud.

Lands made Alabama’s abortion ban and access to contraception and in vitro fertilization central to her campaign, speaking openly about her own previous abortion experience in a TV ad that featured her saying that it was “shameful that today women have fewer freedoms than I had two decades ago”.

Lands said that her win sent a clear message in the wake of Alabama’s near-total abortion ban, which came into effect after the US supreme court struck down Roe v Wade in 2022. In February, there was also a highly controversial state supreme court decision that threatened the use of IVF.

“This is a giant step forward for Alabama, this is a victory tonight for women, for families, for Alabama in general,” Lands told WHNT News 19 in the wake of her win.

“It feels like it’s the start of a change here,” she added of the state’s politics. “I think we are ready for something different, we are tired of Alabama being 49th and 50th in all the key metrics. We can do better, we are better and I want to make that happen.”

Lands said she would work to overturn Alabama’s abortion law, one of the most stringent in the US, which outlaws abortion at any stage of pregnancy with no exceptions for rape or incest. It is only permitted in situations where the life of the pregnant person is in danger.

“Today, Alabama women and families sent a clear message that will be heard in Montgomery and across the nation,” she said in a statement. “Our legislature must repeal Alabama’s no-exceptions abortion ban, fully restore access to IVF, and protect the right to contraception.”

The special election does little to tip the balance of power in conservative Alabama, with Republicans holding a commanding 75 to 27 advantage over Democrats in the state house.

However, Democrats have hailed the victory as a further sign that restricting access to abortion has proved electorally damaging to Republicans, particularly in the sort of seat contested by Lands. The Democrat won in the state’s 10th district, which comprises parts of Huntsville and Madison, a relatively affluent and educated area of northern Alabama only narrowly carried by Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.

“This special election is a harbinger of things to come – Republicans across the country have been put on notice that there are consequences to attacks on IVF – from the bluest blue state to the reddest red, voters are choosing to fight for their fundamental freedoms by electing Democrats across the country,” said Heather Williams, president of the Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee, in a statement sent to Politico.

Source: US Politics -


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